Hermeneutic Interpretation of Matthew 22 34 38 Research Paper

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¶ … Hermeneutical Interpretation of Matthew 22:34-38

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One of the biggest challenges of any reader of the Bible is having an appropriate understanding of what precisely one is reading. For although a plain reading of any scripture is satisfactory much of the time for day-to-day application-though this is arguable as well-there is much to be said for having a thorough knowledge of a variety of factors which contribute to a deeper understanding of any given passage. And even in this, there is a great deal of debate as to what would be considered appropriate and satisfactory interpretation of what the Bible is communicating to its reader at any given moment. for, clearly it is not enough to cover a mere language interpretation. This is clear when considering colloquialisms, context, cultural practices, the intentions of the author and what sort of event he or she is conveying or what subject is to be the pocus. So, what is called a hermeneutical interpretation and practice is often necessary to employ as to receive a much clearer knowledge of the text. Hermeneutics, being an art and a science simultaneously or sometimes individually one or the other, seeks to elaborate various textual interpretations by employing a method that draws from all of the above mentioned characteristics. As such, here in this paper, we will focus on one passage in the New Testament. In the gospel of Matthew, the twenty-second chapter, verses thirty-four through to thirty-eight, a brief hermeneutical analysis will be performed. It is hoped that we will come to a deeper understanding of the passage, as well as learn something about the hermeneutical method. For such practices are helpful not merely in the case of this verse, but anywhere in the Bible; or any text for that matter.

TOPIC: Research Paper on Hermeneutic Interpretation of Matthew 22 34 38 Assignment

Let us look at the passage itself as to first see what the passage says. In the 34th to the 38th verse of chapter 22 it states, "But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. "Teacher which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest commandment."

As such, in a hermeneutical analysis we have to first find an adequate translation. Now, in the case of translations, naturally this goes far beyond the ordinary researcher whose knowledge of Greek, Latin, or in some cases ancient Aramaic, is not adequate to pick apart every word stated. This is not to say that having a cursory understanding of some of the words stated, the ones that perhaps are more significant than some others, as to their translation from their original language is an obfuscation. Indeed, such study guides and knowledge of languages can be incredibly helpful. For after all as one is analyzing the text itself, the words as they appear in their original language have certain meanings that are perhaps lost in translation. Typically translators take into account contextual passages as well sayings in the ancient as well as the modern. In allowing for contextual translations, there is a less likelihood of a chance that a misunderstanding of what a passage means. For after all a word for word translation would be, as anyone who has used translators, disastrous in understanding a literary passage or simply the context of a sentence. So, some knowledge of a language can certainly be helpful, but is not necessary. At times, it may be the case that linguistic knowledge is necessary to understand a passage if translations for the language are few in the case of obscure languages. but, in the instance of the above passage, we will assume that the current translation we are using is not one which allows for significant ambiguity or a misinterpretation of what the author is stating.

With the translation of the passage secure, for the most part, we will move to other consideration as to allow for our hermeneutical analysis of this text. Now moving to historical considerations we must first understand precisely with whom Jesus is speaking with. For who are the Sadducees and do they have some reason to ask Jesus this question and why would they want to trip him up? Furthermore, are there extenuating circumstances that contribute to this, what could only be described as a, conflict? And while other questions loom on the haze of this lack of clarity, it is sufficient for now to address these. First of all, this group referred to as the Sadducees was a religious sect with certain unique interpretations of the scriptures. As to address all the details which pertain to this incredibly complex religion would be beyond the powers of this writer, however, it is important to address a few of their ideas. The Sadducees, we are told in the Bible, disagreed with certain points concerning scriptural doctrine. One of these points was the resurrection of the dead. As such, they did not believe in the eventual resurrection of those in sheol, as did the Pharisees. But how this reflects our current scripture is uncertain. For the question is concerning the Law of the Hebrews in scripture, not anything pertaining to what is known as in theology as eschatology.

With an historical account of the Sadducees' debate with the Pharisees as irrelevant, then we must focus on other aspects of the text and context in order to understand why this individual is asking what he is and why Jesus answers in the way he does. What may help is a little background information with the author of the gospel. Matthew, a tax collector in the first century, was a follower of Christ. Presumably, this story is a first hand account of an event that occurred. but, we may ask, why is it that Matthew records it. Is it for mere historical purpose-posterity- or is it because he felt it a significant enough even tot record? and, furthermore, if the latter, and not the former, then what would inspire Matthew to consider this a significant event? Well, these are all good questions and ones that deserve answers.

First, let us look at whether or not this is an historical fact that Matthew was recording for no other reason than to record it for the sake of history; not too unlike journaling. Now this is highly unlikely: For we do not consider Matthew as a Hesiod, or Josephus, or Pliny the Younger. His works, as far as we know, are limited to this book. And since there seems to be no evidence that Matthew was writing for the sake of history, then we may look at why he was writing.

Well, the motivation for his account he explains in the beginning of the book. He tells us himself that his purpose is not only to give a history of the life of Jesus, but for the sake of evangelizing and converting those from any other religion other than that which Jesus was promoting to this. So, we can be confident that Matthew is interested in those facts which pertain to not only Jesus' life, but His teachings and His instructions for a return to the God of the Jews. So, although it is possible that Matthew was writing for the purpose of posterity in some instances-thus contradicting his initial theme, which is possible-it is highly unlikely.

So then with this in mind, what precisely can we say was the motivation of the Sadducee's question? Well, here we can also appeal to another hermeneutical principle and that is context. We can take into account the previous events leading up to this one as well as background information provided by the author. As such, we are told that the teachers of the Law, which would include the Sadducees, were upset with Jesus' teachings. And although it may or may not make a difference here, the reason for this is not only for the sake of preserving their position as teachers, protecting the Palestinian region from Rome's wrath if there were a malcontent teaching anti-Roman doctrines, but chiefly due to what the disciples believed as the hardening of their hearts. So, this lawyer Sadducee asked the question to try to get Jesus to say something that would diminish, if not destroy, His credibility as a teacher, and as many believed Him to be the messiah and the son of God.

Now that we have a reasonable understanding of why the teacher of the law asked Jesus this question, we can briefly explain why Jesus said what he said. First and foremost, as best as we can understand it, without introducing contentious issues of doctrine, ultimately Jesus felt He had a better understanding of the commandments of God than they; or at least was honest enough to admit what it was God wished of His people. Within the context of… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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